Two former cabinet ministers have both warned that Scotland could become indepedent in the near future, despite last year's 'No' vote.

Former Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister NIck Clegg today warns that the 2017 European Union referendum also risks the break-up of the United Kingdom.

His party colleague Sir Vince Cable also said there was a real risk of Scotland "going its own way" if the Conservatives remain in power at Westminster for too long.

The warnings come just hours after SNP MEP Alyn Smith said there were no plans for an early second independence vote.

He also said he did not believe did not the UK leaving the EU would be an "automatic" trigger for another referendum.

SNP leader Ms Sturgeon has suggested that so-called ‘’Brexit’’ could be a catalyst for an independence poll.

Mr Clegg will use a speech to the Lib Dem annual conference in Bournemouth to warn that quitting the EU could lead to Scottish independence.

The stakes of the upcoming EU referendum “could not be higher” - “not just one, but two, unions now hang in the balance” he will say.

The “SNP will gleefully grab the opportunity to persuade the people of Scotland to leave the UK as well” in the event of a Brexit, he will tell activists.

Mr. Clegg will also hit out at new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was forced to clarify his position on Europe last week after two members of his shadow cabinet, including shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray, suggested they could be forced to resign if the party backed leaving the EU.

Mr Clegg will warn Mr Corbyn the “referendum is simply too important for ambivalence”.

Sir Vince told a fringe meeting at the conference that Scotland could vote to become independent if it looks like the Conservatives are in power indefinitely.

He said: "The overwhelming majority of people in Scotland do not want a Tory Government.

"The things which have been holding them back so far, which are the sensible economic reasons, may not be sufficient to keep Scotland in the Union.

"Scotland could simply go its own way - that's a real worry."

Sir Vince also attacked Mr Corbyn as "completely unelectable" and predicted he would be "slaughtered" by the Conservatives.

Comparing the Labour leader to the recently killed Cecil the lion, he said that the Tories were "waiting with their big bore guns" to take down the "Leninist" veteran Labour MP.

Meanwhile Willie Rennie, the Scottish Lib Dem leader, told party members that the Conservatives' recent behaviour risked putting the Union in jeopardy.

He pointed to the General Election campaign, in which the Tories faced criticism for portraying the SNP as pickpockets, and plans to restrict the voting rights of Scottish MPs

"I don't think the Tories can call themselves the Conservative and Unionist party any more," he said.

"We worked with them to defend the Union but within hours to put their party first before their country I thought was an amazing U-turn".

Meanwhile SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson has claimed that the Conservative government has lost control of the Scotland Bill currently going through Westminster

Mr Robertson has sent a letter to Downing Street outlining how the SNP believe that the Bill falls short of the cross-party Smith Commission agreement.